I’ve been on Cloud 9 since hearing the news that I was taking home a Silver Plate Award. Presented by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), the Silver Plate Awards are one of the oldest and most prestigious awards given to restaurant industry professionals who excel in their fields. It’s humbling that I took home the prize for the colleges and universities segment, which is one of the Silver Plate’s most-competitive categories.
Since the news got out, I’ve received more than a hundred notes of congratulations, from emails and cards to gift baskets. It is a wonderful feeling, and the entire UMass Dining team is elated that all of our hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Several past winners also wrote to congratulate me and to tell me to gear up for the celebrations in Chicago, which take place during annual National Restaurant Association show. They guaranteed that the sequence of activities, capped with the Gold and Silver Plate Celebration Dinner, would be a time to remember.
To help me prepare for the events, IFMA sent me a schedule with details about protocol, attire, and other information about what to expect in Chicago. Everything exceeded my expectations. A friendly car service representative greeted us at the airport and delivered us to a comfortable hotel in downtown Chicago. Over the course of several days, we attended a welcome dinner for Silver Plate recipients, an all-industry reception and luncheon, a dinner at Gibson’s Restaurant, a Gold and Silver Plate society reception and luncheon, and, at long last, the Gold and Silver Award Dinner held at the Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station.
I am so grateful that my boss, Jim, several key managers, and my family joined me for the celebration. I am also thankful to those who nominated me, including Hobart, Basic American Food, TW Garner, and the University of Massachusetts. Special thanks also goes to my peers, especially past winners in the Colleges and Universities segment. Thank you Mary Molt, Tim Dietzler, Dee Hardy, Stu Orefice, Shawn LaPean, Ted Mayer, Mike Floyd, Shirley Everett, Dean Wright, Julaine Kiehn, Pat Bando and the NACUFS organization for supporting me.
In addition, I want to say a Big Thank You to the 750 staff members and 1500-person student staff members members for your contribution to the success of UMass Dining.
Last, but certainly not least, heartfelt congratulations to this year’s Gold Plate Winner—IFMA’s top prize—John Metz of Sterling Hospitality, who represented the Restaurant Segment. It was a pleasure to get to spend time with John and Roberta. I always like to think that the food served in colleges and universities rivals what is served in restaurants, and everyone benefits from a little friendly competition.
This is Ken Toong, thank you for keep UMass Dining on the top.
Contact Ken at [email protected]
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